Last night I was asking God for the subject of this week’s Bible study, I must have fallen asleep in between my asking, but He gave me the subject when I awoke, as I had just had a dream. Over the past couple of years I have had several dreams and waking prophesies which I regard as being of God through His Spirit. At this point I have little idea where this study will go, so I I am trusting in the Spirit to guide me as I write, as usual.
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; [Acts 2:17]
Which is in fact a quote from the Old testament Book of Joel [Joel 2:28]
Joel was little known prophet who lived in ancient Israel anywhere from the 9th century BC to the 5th century BC, depending on the dating of his book, however unusually we know that he died on July 13th. The above prophesy refers to ‘The Day of the Lord’ when it was believed that God would judge the nations and the unfaithful of Israel. The Acts verse, however refers to the day of Pentecost when the Spirit in the form of tongues of fire settling on the apostles. Pentecost, at that time, was regarded by the followers of ‘The Way’ (Jesus said “I am the Way”), as the Day of the Lord, but that did not happen. The message however, is valid for all times.
As we shall see, I believe, dreams are one of the primary ways that God communicates with man, as well as visions and actual encounters, pictures and tongues/interpretations. As usual God instigated dreams have been a feature since the early Old Testament times. In Genesis God appears to Abimelech in a dream [Genesis 20:3]. Also who can forget the many dreams of Jacob with his ladder [Genesis 28:12] or the goats the mated with the sheep to produce animals that were striped, mottles and spotted, which seems to be just a way of getting Jacob’s attention, though these offspring must have had some significance to him. We cannot omit probable the most famous Biblical dreamer of them all, Joseph, of the coat of many colours. Joseph’s dream sequence was also possibly the most significant in changing a life from an insignificant younger son to a powerful position ruling Egypt. Joseph’s story [Genesis 37] is a lesson to us all on why we should pay attention to our dreams.
As Joseph was the son of Jacob [Genesis 37:2] it seems that dreams are a family trait, whilst napping during watching his father’s sheep (another family trait) he has his famous dream of his brother’s sheaves bowed to Joseph’s sheaves [Genesis 37:7]. Considering how his brothers already hated him [Genesis 37:4], Joseph must have either been very brave or very stupid to share his dream with the brothers. As we now know Joseph was obedient to his Lord in sharing the dream and after a long journey scattered with many dreams (the bowing stars Genesis 37:9); the cupbearer’s and the baker’s dream whilst in prison [Genesis 40:5-9]; the baker’s dream [Genesis 40:16-19]; Pharaoh dream [Genesis 41:1-32] ). In Genesis 42:9 the original dreams come to pass as Joseph’s brothers bow down before him, and Joseph saves his family from starvation by keeping them all in Egypt with him. A story of how evil acts can lead to good things when we trust Him.
A statement from the Lord says that if there are prophets among us, He will make it known through a dream [Numbers 12:6]. So we certainly need to keep one eye on what we receive in our dreams; some people are bad at remembering their dreams, others, like myself, are not so good, but all we need to do is to pray to the Spirit to remind us. If it is of God you WILL be reminded through the Spirit. It was well recognised in Old Testament times the importance of dreams and there are warnings against dreams that come from Satan or the minds of the dreamer, if it does not line up with God’s word [Deuteronomy 13:1-3] so there are dangers also. In those days the offence of misleading the faithful was to be put to death [Deuteronomy 13:1-5] so God viewed this offence very seriously, beware. We also need to be careful to act upon dreams that are obviously from God, at the same time careful to confirm that the dream is of God. Here we can follow the example of the young Samuel who heard God calling his name in a dream and he went to Eli to ask advice [1 Samuel 3:9]. Eli says to him to respond, “Speak Lord your servant is listening.” Note the specific use of the Lord’s name, is this significant?
Saul who is anointed King by Samuel seems to also have been used to communicating with God through dreams, but as Saul falls away from God and does evil the dreams stop and he complains to Samuel [1 Samuel 28:15]. So it seems that these dreams depend upon our relationship with God. Again sin can become a barrier to God communicating with us, is this a guide? Maybe, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Almost every prophet in the Old Testament experienced dreams from God including Solomon the Wise; was this where he obtained his wisdom?
In the New Testament we start straight away with an Angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph about Mary’s pregnancy [Matthew 1:20] and also the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod to give him the place of Jesus’ birth [Matthew 2:12]. Later the Angel of the Lord again appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him to take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt in order to avoid the massacre of the innocence by Herod [Matthew 2:13]. The angel then appeared to Joseph in another dream to tell him it was safe for the family to return home to Israel [Matthew 2:18-20]. Yet again and angel warned Joseph in a dream the Archelaus (son of Herod) was reigning over Judea and to go directly to Galilee [Matthew 2:21-23].
Matthew 2 is the last recorded communication by God in dreams for the remainder of the New Testament, possibly until we get to Revelation, but John the Evangelist is recorded as having visions, which suggests that he was awake. Is our key verse [Acts 2:17] then given as a prophesy about the end times, as it was spoken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that the dreams will again start as we near the end of days?
If then we have a dream, what should we do?
- Firstly we need to Expect that God can and wants to speak to us in dreams.
- If we have a dream we need to Seek the Interpretation [Daniel 2:1-3]. Seek God who interprets all dreams to reveal the meaning of the dream, its relevance and importance, and what we are to do about what is revealed to us, dreams are useless if we ignore them.
- It’s a good idea for us to Write them down including as much detail as you possibly can, and as you seek the interpretation, write that down too.
- Weigh the dream and what is believed to be the interpretation. Measure what is revealed with the Word of God. Scripture and verse may not be matching, but if the principle of God’s Word and God’s character is in the interpretation, then this is a fair signal that it can be trusted.
Dreams must be checked against God’s will and His word, in Romans 12:2 it encourages us to do just that:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (My emphasis added)
In conclusion, to be safe from the effects of deception we must carefully examine everything with Scripture, which is our standard of truth. [2 Tim. 3:16-17]. Dreams are no exception to this, but NEVER IGNORE THEM they are given for a reason.
In God’s love.